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University of Westminster

Polytechnic Touring Association


Reference code(s): GB 1753 PTA

Held at: University of Westminster

Title: Polytechnic Touring Association

Date(s): 1894-1957

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 4 boxes

Name of creator(s): Polytechnic Touring Association


Administrative/Biographical history:

Members of the Polytechnic founded by Quintin Hogg (1845-1903) and its predecessors had visited his homes, including Holly Hill in Hampshire, for holidays, but increasing numbers meant that this became impractical. In 1886 trips for members were arranged to Switzerland and Boulogne. In 1888 a party of boys from the Polytechnic School toured Belgium and Switzerland to see the mountains they were learning about in geography lessons. In 1889 arrangements were made for Polytechnic parties to visit the Paris Exhibition. Cruises to Norway began in 1892. In 1893 the Director of Education Robert Mitchell (1855-1933) acquired chalets by Lake Lucerne which were to become the most famous centre for the Polytechnic Touring Association. A notable achievement was the organisation of a series of trips to Chicago to see the World's Fair in 1893: more than 1,000 people made the month-long journey. By 1894 the total number of persons participating in Continental tours exceeded 3,000, increasing to 12,000 by 1903. The steam yacht Ceylon was purchased in 1896 for cruises of the Norwegian fjords. Polytechnic employees acted as guides. The trips pioneered cheaper travel, making it accessible to less affluent travellers, and the Touring Association, organising trips in Britain and overseas and attracting customers from among non-Polytechnic members, became a substantial business. Its office was adjacent to the main entrance of the Regent Street Polytechnic building. The tours were initially organised within the general administration of the Polytechnic, though after the Scheme of Administration in 1891, there was pressure from the auditors to separate out the accounts and administration. Robert Mitchell remained the driving force until after World War One. The continued expansion of the firm after 1918 was due largely to the leadership of Cmdr Ronald G Studd: when he left the Navy in 1921 his father, Sir Kynaston Studd, President of the Polytechnic, invited him to take over the management of the tours. He did this very successfully, expanding the range of tours to include southern Europe. When the Creative Tourist Agents Conference was formed, Studd became chair. In the 1960s the concern was taken over by the firm of Henry Lunn Ltd to form the travel retailer Lunn Poly.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records relating to the Polytechnic tours, 1894-1957, comprise: deed regulating tenancy of the Halti Mollis in Glarus, Switzerland, 1894;

Correspondence of Frank Short relating to his employment by the Polytechnic and the organisation of the tours, 1895-1899; correspondence relating to a complaint from John Mason Cook, tourist agent, about the holiday-arranging activities of the Polytechnic, 1896-1897;

Financial records: correspondence relating to the PTA's finances, 1919, 1927-1928, 1930-1941; correspondence relating to arrangements for the sale of The Holiday Story by Commander R G Studd which was published on 9 February 1950; balance sheets and accounts 1895-1896, 1902-1911;

Annual brochures: 1905, 1908 (photocopy); Spring and Summer Tours, continental edition 1923; Algeria 1923-1924; Summer Programmes 1929-1930, 1935-1937; Jubilee Programme 1938; 1939-1949

Guide books: Gossip of the Lake of Lucerne by J Hunt Cooke c.1908; A Guide to Lovely Lucerne and Surroundings by Basil Mitchell 1923; Polytechnic Swiss Tours: A Souvenir by Basil Mitchell 1925; A Souvenir of a Week in Paris compiled by Alfred Bossy 1927; Belgium: descriptive accounts of daily excursions, historical notes and useful information in connection with the Polytechnic Tours to Belgium by Basil Mitchell 1931; The Bernese Oberland: descriptive accounts of daily excursions, historical notes and useful information in connection with the Polytechnic Tours to the Bernese Oberland by Basil Mitchell 1931; The Holiday Story by Commander R G Studd 1950; A Fortnight in the Italian Lakes by Commander R G Studd 1952; Poly Holiday News: an illustrated magazine 1953; A Fortnight in Switzerland by Commander R G Studd 1957

Memorabilia: programmes for Polytechnic Tour Reunions, 1938, 1947; Swiss tours posters, 1930s; itinerary and related documents for a tour of Interlaken in July 1938 booked by Miss M C Heiron; souvenirs from the first escorted tour by air to Switzerland arranged by the PTA on May 14th 1932- includes brochure, newspaper cuttings and photographs; tickets and timetables for trip to Oberammergau, Germany in August 1950; postcards of the Polytechnic chalets at Seeburg, Lake Lucerne 1898-1937; postcard of the Polytechnic chalets at Interlaken, n.d.; photograph of Polytechnic chalets at Seeburg c.1900; photographs of Polytechnic party in Norway in May 1907; photographs of a Polytechnic party at Andermatt, Switzerland in June 1922.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arranged as in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signing the Regulations for Access form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be supplied, for research use only, unless copyright restrictions apply or the item is too fragile to be copied. Requests to publish original material should be addressed to the University Archivist.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Typescript handlist.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Created by the organisation.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The University of Westminster Archives holds records of the Polytechnic (Ref: UWA YCI, RSP) and the Polytechnic School (Ref: UWA PSS). The Polytechnic Magazine includes information on Polytechnic tours, for example advertisements for trips and accounts of trips and reunions. See also UWA BRY for a diary written by William Bryant about holidaying at the Polytechnic chalets in Seeburg in 1905.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project and additional information added by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.
Sources: Ethel M Hogg, Quintin Hogg: a Biography (Archibald Constable & Co Ltd, London, 1904), pp 231-235; L C B Seaman, The Quintin School 1886-1956: a brief history (London, 1957), pp 13, 15-18; '160 Years of Innovation: the Polytechnic Institution to the University of Westminster 1838-1998' (University of Westminster [1998]), pp 23-5; Ronald Granville Studd, The Holiday Story (London [1950]).

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Dec 2001 and May 2008.

Financial statements | Accounting | Financial administration | Finance
Holidays | Tourism
Photographs | Visual materials
Travel abroad | Travel

Personal names
Cook | John Mason | 1834-1899 | tourist agent
Short | Frank | fl 1895-1899
Studd | Ronald Granville | fl 1921-1950 | travel agent

Corporate names
Polytechnic Institute | Regent Street x Regent Street Polytechnic
Polytechnic Touring Association

Glarus | Switzerland | Western Europe | Europe